Telehealth appointments with Dubbo doctors will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Regional Heath Minister Mark Coulton.
The minister and federal Member for Parkes also contends that Dubbo's GP-led COVID-19 respiratory clinic will operate into 2021.
He was speaking to the Daily Liberal after telling regional Australians of the federal government's $2 billion and six-month extension of its national COVID-19 emergency health response to the end of March.
The emergency response has included the provision of Medicare-subsidised telehealth and pathology services, and the establishment of 148 GP-led respiratory clinics, more than half of them in the bush.
"It's just been extended in its current form largely because of what's happening in Victoria," Mr Coulton said.
"But we are working on the longer-term model for telehealth which will be a bit more refined and revolve around, if not a particular doctor then a practice.
"At the moment we've got some corporates in there offering basically call centre telehealth and that's not what it's designed to do."
Mr Coulton said the government's initial approach to providing telehealth had been driven by the need to "make sure everyone was captured".
But he said after the pandemic it would be subject to guidelines and "target the people who need it most" across Australia.
The minister told of an "extraordinary" take-up of telehealth nationwide with more than 30 million consultations allowing people to connect with their GP, practice nurse, midwife, or allied and mental health services during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Mr Coulton is confident that the GP-led respiratory clinic in Dubbo will "go into March because we haven't actually beaten this virus yet".
"We've just been through severe restrictions that tamed it and so the potential for it to pop up anywhere, Dubbo included, is still quite high," he said.
"We need to have these resources so we can ramp up the testing and get on top of it very quickly."
The minister also announced this week a four-year and $115 million extension to the national Rural Health Outreach Fund which supports palliative care services in Dubbo.
"This fund brings doctors and health professionals to patients, rather than the other way around, allowing many thousands of people to receive their health care closer to home," Mr Coulton said.